Waste Not, Watt Not

It's been a bummer of a week for climate news. The Senate bill continues to languish behind health care and there have been...

It's been a bummer of a week for climate news. The Senate bill continues to languish behind health care and there have been some disconcerting rumbles that it might now be back-burnered even longer as an increasingly spineless nervous Senate focuses on jobs and deficit. And out of Singapore on Sunday we hear that Copenhagen definitely won't produce a legally-binding agreement, but will rather be the first piece of a "one-agreement, two-step" process, the controversial (and dangerous (pdf), and expensive) delay due largely to U.S. inaction.

So allow me this week-amidst immense frustration-to focus on something positive. Let's take a look at the core climate solution, the lowest hanging fruit on the emissions reductions tree, the no-brainer fix that is so practical, so cheap, and has such potential, that it's going to make America's hesitation to commit to even modest CO2 cuts seem absolutely ridiculous. We're talking, of course, about efficiency.

Lost in all the argument over mitigation targets and emissions reductions is the simple idea that reaching these goals might actually be easy. Well, easier than anyone is anticipating, and potentially a great boon for the economy at large and for the average American's wallet. Consider this: The emissions reductions goals laid out in the Waxman-Markey House bill could be met by improving energy efficiency alone and at a net savings to the public and U.S. businesses. According to a July McKinsey report, a $520 billion investment in efficiency through 2020 would yield gross energy savings to the tune of $1.2 trillion, effectively lowering the nation's energy bill by nearly $700 billion while cutting emissions by 23 percent from business-as-usual. Just how big is this savings? "Greater than the total energy consumption of Canada excluding transportation," said Ken Ostrowski, a senior partner at McKinsey.

A similarly enlightening report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy found that the efficiency provisions already in the Waxman-Markey bill would save the average American household $750 annually by 2020 and a whopping $3,900-a-year by 2030, meanwhile creating around 650,000 jobs. This is part of the reason why a diverse coalition of nearly 200 business, labor, civil rights, and environmental groups sent a letter earlier this month to Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, urging her to support an important energy-efficiency provision in the Senate's legislation.

What's more, these reports didn't even touch the transportation sector, where increased fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks that the Administration has already rolled out will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly a gigaton (add another roughly three-quarters to the efficiency savings noted above) and save the average car buyer more than $3,000 in fuel costs. Nor did the McKinsey report factor in a price on carbon emissions, which most analysts and experts see as inevitable. "Even if we don't get a climate bill this year, it's extremely conservative to think there will not be a price on carbon in the next decade," said Peter Lehner, executive director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Meaning the cost savings will surely be even greater.

Translation: it won't be painful to meet the reductions goals of Waxman-Markey or whatever version comes out of the Senate. And while these goals are admittedly far too modest and don't nearly achieve what the latest science demands, Congress's hesitation to commit them to law remains the biggest barrier to a global climate agreement. Americans need to understand that for all the drawn-out debate, these target emissions levels aren't so big a hurdle. We can step right up to them using existing technologies in ways that actually save consumers money and creates jobs. The commitments that we just can't seem to make, for which the world is impatiently waiting, can be met with the simplest of win-win-win solutions. Energy efficiency's moment is long overdue.


The Justice Department sent immigration judges a white nationalist blog post

The blog post was from an "anti-immigration hate website."

Attorney General William Barr via Wikimedia Commons

Department of Justice employees were stunned this week when the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) sent court employees a morning briefing that contained a link to a "news" item on VDare, a white nationalist website.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, VDare is an "anti-immigration hate website" that "regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists and anti-Semites." The website was established in 1999 by its editor Peter Brimelow.

The morning briefing is distributed to all EOIR employees on a daily basis, including all 440 immigration judges across the U.S.

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via Smithfly.com

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Except that's apparently not true at all. A major study from Cigna on loneliness found that feelings of isolation and loneliness are on the rise amongst Americans but the numbers are nearly identical amongst those who use social media and those who don't. Perhaps more importantly, the study found five common traits amongst those who don't feel lonely.

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He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

He risked his life to leave a "historical record of our martyrdom."

via Yad Vashem and Archive of Modern Conflict, 2007

In September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. By April 1940, the gates closed on the Lodz Ghetto, the second largest in the country after Warsaw.

Throughout the war, over 210,000 people would be imprisoned in Lodz.

Among those held captive was Henryk Ross. He was a Jewish sports photographer before the Nazi invasion and worked for the the ghetto's Department of Statistics during the war. As part of his official job, he took identification photos of the prisoners and propaganda shots of Lodz' textile and leather factories.

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WITI Milwaukee

Joey Grundl, a pizza delivery driver for a Domino's Pizza in Waldo, Wisconsin, is being hailed as a hero for noticing a kidnapped woman's subtle cry for help.

The delivery man was sent to a woman's house to deliver a pie when her ex-boyfriend, Dean Hoffman, opened the door. Grundl looked over his shoulder and saw a middle-aged woman with a black eye standing behind Hoffman. She appeared to be mouthing the words: "Call the police."

"I gave him his pizza and then I noticed behind him was his girlfriend," Grundl told WITI Milwaukee. "She pointed to a black eye that was quite visible. She mouthed the words, 'Call the police.'"

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